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CD: Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics

CD: Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics

The singer's latest album features some of her most impressive songs to date

'Broken Politics' - a completely satisfying synthesis

Collaboration clearly suits Neneh Cherry. From co-writing with husband Cameron McVey, to projects with Youssou N’Dour, her band cirKus, The Thing and RocketNumberNine, the give-and-take of partnership has produced some stunning work that has always seen the singer give as much as she has taken. 

Cherry is an honest, open performer and that translates to her vocal style. Much attention has been focused on the involvement of Keiron “Four Tet” Hebden as producer on this project, and his trademark sparkle is much in evidence with carefully controlled clatter and subtle rewinds sitting behind sparkles and fizz, but perhaps the deftest touch is giving Cherry’s voice the space to shine. 

Her tonal signature is so identifiable, so incredibly attractive, that it needs to dominate, and that’s exactly what it does, Cherry’s trademark vibrato riding the wave. It remains impressively raw and honest throughout, never imperious, never showy. It’s a voice that needs to be heard rather than demanding it. 

Eschewing shrieking acrobatics in favour of subtler signifiers of emotion, Cherry’s voice is perfectly suited to Hebden’s production, which is every bit as nuanced and makes for an impressive continuity through a range of diverse tempos and hues. At one end of the spectrum sits “Synchronised Devotion”, the delicate sound of history quietly colliding. The gentle piano lines come clouded in the sitting-room echo of nostalgia, while a vibraphone and Cherry’s voice are right up in the mix, front and centre. Its neighbour, “Deep Vein Thrombosis”, follows a similar pace but with a darker, more sombre intent, something of a recurring theme in a thoughtful, reflective collection. 

At the other end, “Natural Skin Deep” is a ferociously funk-driven stormer, the rolling skate of the steel band sample helping to keep a sense of momentum and purpose before everything collapses through the doors of a jazz club at the signal of an air horn. It’s only a brief respite, the song sprinting off as soon as it hears its cue again. 

In between these points lie some of Cherry’s most satisfying songs to date, including the static-soaked skank of recent single “Kong”, all buoyed by sympathetic and symbiotic production. It all adds up to a completely satisfying synthesis.

@jahshabby 

Overleaf: watch the video for "Kong"

Her tonal signature is so identifiable, so incredibly attractive, that it needs to dominate, and that’s exactly what it does

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